Book doctors are wonderful!
I can tell you from personal experience that writers often--in fact, nearly always--lack the ability to see flaws, even major structural flaws, in their own stories. Myself included.
That's where a good book doctor can be worth his or her weight in gold. Janice Hardy writes:
One of the reasons a good book doctor is so successful, is that they look at a story without all the emotional baggage us authors bring to our own work, and can analyze the critical elements of good storytelling. (Be Your Own Book Doctor)The key is that a knowledgeable stranger has the objectivity we almost always lack when it comes to our own work.
But what if a writer can't afford that kind of a second opinion?
Janice Hardy comes to the rescue, allowing us all to be--or at least try to be--our own book doctor.
Be Your Own Book Doctor
My advice is, if you can, put your newly completed manuscript away in a drawer and forget about it for as long as you can stand, six weeks or so if you can do it, then bring it out and give it a quick read-through. Now, answer the following questions (these questions are all from Janice Hardy's article):
1. Is the tone consistent?
2. Is the theme clear?
3. Is your plot structure solid?
4. Are your stakes high enough?
5. Is there enough conflict?
6. Is there a strong narrative drive?
7. Is there tension?
8. Are there character arcs?
9. Are the characters fully formed?
10. Does the dialog sound natural?
11. Is the setting developed?
12. Is the pacing working?
Janice breaks her analysis down even further, asking several questions for each point. It's a great article! (Here's the link again: Be Your Own Book Doctor.)
I especially liked Janice's comments on story structure, and would like to leave you with a link to one of her other articles on the subject: I Love it When a Plan Comes Together, Plotting a Novel: Part One.
Honestly, I can't believe how generous authors are on the web! In that article (I Love it When ...) Janice shares the fruit of her knowledge gleaned from years of writing. It is incredibly informative. I can't recommend Janice's blog, The Other Side of the Story, highly enough.
Question: Do you have any tips and tricks for editing a novel?
Other articles you might like:- The Rules Of Romantic Comedy
- Different Kinds Of Story Openings: Shock And Seduction
- Chuck Wendig On Story Structure
- Story Structure
Photo credit: "Heavy Black & White" by Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.